This is the latest member of the Gator family and it is strong, tough and has sheer power.
What is more, it makes going to work fun.
The engineers were given free rein when they designed the 855D - and it shows. Holding it all together and providing all the stability you need is a robust steel frame. It gives confidence for climbing hills, coping with slopes, dashing over fields or wading through water.
Independent double-wishbone suspension adds the feeling of being in control at all times and the new sway bar on the rear axle reduces body roll - even in extreme conditions. It is simple to adjust the suspension for varying payloads.
"I could sit in this for hours. It's far superior to anything else I have tried in this class," says Phipps. "The seating is comfortable, it feels sturdy, handles well and it has guts."
Power comes from a high-torque, liquid-cooled, three-cylinder diesel engine. It is a Yamaha and has endless reserves of power to speed the vehicle up to 52kmph (32mph). The transmission (CVT) features two ranges and requires no shifting. It is fully enclosed for protection when fording streams and it feels efficient.
"I like the diesel engine and the belt drive is very responsive," Phipps stresses. "You put your foot down and it goes - no delay."
What really sets the 855D apart from most other utilities of this class is its true on-demand four-wheel drive. It allows you to switch quickly between a turf-friendly traction-mode to a locked rear differential to On-Demand True 4WD for maximum traction. An electronic interlock engages to prevent power from being transferred to a wheel that has lost all traction.
"You can see where we started to get stuck," confirms Phipps. "But the instant you put it into four-wheel drive it grips and gets you out of trouble. I would imagine it could cope with most situations."
Driving the 855D is more like driving a car. The specification has been upped and includes fully-adjustable seats with inertia seat belts and a small storage area in between.
"It really is comfortable to drive," says Bellinger. "You don't get thrown around when off-roading and you feel glued to the seat." Meanwhile, Phipps has already worked out which spanners he can fit in the storage box.
The cargo box has a 460-litre capacity - ample for most things you need to transport around an estate or golf course - and the tailgate is easy to fold down for unloading. Electric tipping is an option worth considering.
There are lots of other options too. Add a windscreen, canopy or cab, brush or fender guard, rear bumper or fender guard, cargo box mat, electric tip, extensions or dividers, front rack, drawbar hitch, winch or dozer blade. Choose turf tyres, knobby, all-purpose, all-terrain, Ancla Extreme, Extreme, Aggressive tread or Maxxis Extreme Terrain tyres. You can even add alloy wheels. Whatever next?
Engine: 854cc liquid-cooled, three-cylinder, four-cycle diesel
Power: 24.9hp (gross)
Max torque: 50Nm at 2,400rpm
Fuel tank: 20 litres
Fuel consumption: 1.89 litres/hour (half load, average speed)
Drive system: Two-speed CVT
Diff lock: Standard, hand operated
Ground speed: 0-52kmph (homologation 0-40kmph)
Suspension: Front: Fully independent dual-control arm, adjustable spring preload. Rear: Fully independent dual A-Arm, adjustable coils and sway bar.
Suspension travel: 203mm front/229mm rear
Towing capacity: 680kg
Payload capacity: 635kg
Cargo box: 114x132x30.5cm
Box carrying capacity: 454kg
List price: £11,425 + VAT (basic)
Tel: John Deere - 01949 860491
Tested This Week
John Deere Gator XUV 855D
The Review Panel
Scott Bellinger, deputy greenkeeper, Cannington Golf Club
Ian Phipps, grounds mechanic, Bridgwater College, Cannington Campus
Moving staff, tools and sacks of seed or fertiliser from A to B is all in a day's work. But what is the best way to do it? What if you work in an urban environment and need to travel between contracts so you can keep an eye on how well the jobs are going? Or perhaps you need to service indoor plant displays across campus. Movement is an essential part of most people's work.
In this review, we look at two totally different vehicles. The John Deere Gator 855D is a diesel 4x4 all-terrain utility vehicle, ready for off-road work whether moorland or estate grounds. The CityFort, as its name implies, is a road-going vehicle suited to life on the street or work in the park - but it has many other applications too.
We asked Bridgwater College grounds mechanic Ian Phipps and Cannington Golf Club deputy greenkeeper Scott Bellinger to put the machines through their paces.
The John Deere 855D was driven up hills and long ridges, manoeuvred round the quad-bike training track and raced across ground between golf course and farmland. We look at its responsiveness and stability as well as its suitability for use in the grounds care and horticulture sectors.
The CityFort was tested on concrete driveways around the college. Find out how the testers got on with the controls and speed. Conditions on the day of the test were cloudy but dry.